This week I feel like spring is actually going to happen. The rhubarb and daffodils are coming up outside and almost all of the snow has melted. I can finally a run a hose over to the hoop houses and get some serious watering done! This part along the back is where Nich’s hops are planted and it had the deepest snow cover as it backs up to a giant empty corn field.
And another sign of spring: tulips in the hoop! SO exciting. I really had been hoping that we would have a normal spring so I could be selling these things by now. I could use the money, April gets a little rough in the financial arena for me. All of my needs for spring are getting purchased with little in the way of income. It makes me anxious.
I have gotten most of the planting done in the hoop houses and I am mostly caught up on my seeding schedule. I have another big round this week then I can start to focus on the perennials that have been patiently waiting in my fridge. I am not sure where I am going to plant some of these but it seemed like a great idea during that LONG winter we just endured. Seriously! It was the longest, coldest, snowiest winter of my life. This is not me over exaggerating, these are facts.
Around here we learned that March comes in like a lion and out like a lamb. Well if they are still teaching kids that today I’ll bet that they are confused. I had to go out and cover up all of my little plants in the hoop house. Come on, it is the end of March! I should not have to cover up cold tolerant annuals inside of a hoop. Forecasted lows in the single digits got me scared and out I went to cover those babies up. And yes I am still watering with melted snow in buckets, though they were mostly frozen this morning.
Also on my schedule for today was to catch up with my seeding plan, which I mostly did. I’m feeling pretty darn good about that. There are few items that I have just decided to skip for one reason or another. And I have had to modify some of my plans since it looks like I probably won’t be planting out in the field for at least three more weeks (probably more). I had it on my schedule to start seeding into my paper chain transplanting system but that requires the ground to be in good shape (not too wet, not too dry) and most of what I am planning to plant probably shouldn’t sit in those trays for more than four weeks. The one exception is my lisianthus. Not seeds, transplants, only crazy people start seeds. I fill up that flat very loosely with my potting mix and then I just smoosh the little plants on top. The cell size is about the same as the flats that they arrive in but a little deeper and way easier to plant out afterward. And that is my favorite reason for having this fancy little system.
Last week was a busy one for around here. The weather finally seems to be less of an issue so I started planting in the hoop house. Anemones, ranunculus, with sweet peas down the middle of the bed. Snaps, stock, and godetia in another bed. And those are buckets of snow melting so that I can water everything since the water source is located 300 feet away over at the house and there are still crazy snow drifts between here and there.
I picked up some willow cuttings and they look great. I am super excited about these guys. When I got home there was a box of lisianthus plugs and a box of dahlia tubers waiting for me. More exciting stuff! The willows I stuck in a bucket of water for now and the lissies I set aside to deal with later. The dahlias I had order because I lost all of mine from last year. I tried that plastic wrap method and it did not work for me. I had a moldy box of plastic and grossness. I tossed the whole thing and ordered new stuff.
The dahlias I potted up into some cow pots and I will take cuttings after they sprout. Since I had to start over with the dahlias I decided that it would be cost effective to propagate through cuttings this year. Of course I have never this before but I am really banking on it working since I only order about 40 dahlia tubers.
On my list for the rest of this week is more planting out into the hoop and starting lots more seeds. I am about three weeks behind. Some stuff I am just going to skip but I will try to catch up as much as possible. I should be mostly caught up by the end of next week. Then I can move on to the perennials and prairie seeds that I am going to start.
This week I am having a hard time focusing. I am going to blame it on February, it sucks. It’s sort of the end of winter and I sort of have a lot to finish up before the snow melts. But it doesn’t really seem like it is going to melt so I am not motivated to do anything in a hurry.
I am slowly finishing up orders for more perennials and woodies. I think that I am going overboard again this year but I just can’t help myself. Worst case scenario is that I have little room for annuals next year, which I guess would not be the worst thing in the world.
More seeds to be started: stock and bells this week, snaps and campanulas last week. I am officially out of room under my lights. I am using a sunny attic room as overflow until I can get things to the farm. I wanted to take some out next week but they are calling for another week of below freezing temps so I suppose I will shoot for the week after.
I did go out to the farm to shovel out the doors of the hoops and I need to remember to put up snow fence this fall, the drifts in front of the doors were three feet high. They are calling for lots of rain today followed by a cold week so I figured I should shovel before it turned to ice. It was warm enough in there for the fans to turn on yesterday and the soil temps are approaching 60. I carried in some buckets of snow to water since there is no way I am getting hoses out there right now.
Last week I started my first round of seeds for the year and everything is germinating beautifully. Stock, snap, eucalyptus, sweet peas, poppies, bells are all looking good. Stock always germinates so quickly, I think it was only a couple of days in the germination chamber and then under lights.
And then almost a week later it is actually looking like a tray full of baby plants! These will go into the hoop house, I am hoping in about 5 weeks. We’ll see how much snow is still piled up in front of the doors.
Also last week I planted my ranunculus tubers after a week and half of cold treatment. This will be the second time I have tried ranunculus and I am hoping for better results than last year. They require a long growing period before they flower but when it gets too hot (like June) they start to shut down. So the hoop house is really going to help me out with this one. I hope. Again I am shooting for about four or five weeks and these guys will be headed out into the hoop as well. They have already started to lift the soil that they are planted in, which means there are glorious green shoots under there and they are about to emerge.
Now that my germination chamber is nearly empty (still a couple of pokey guys in there) I have room to start some more. On the schedule for this week godetia, nigella, and scabiosa. In a couple of days I am going to have to buy more lights for this operation since I am running out of room. In the past I have never had a need to start so many plants this early in the year but the addition of those hoop houses has has me thinking spring. Have I mentioned my excitement about the hoop houses….
It has come to that time of year again… almost spring. Each winter I take a gamble and attempt a moderately accurate prediction of the arrival of spring. It looks like this year I guessed wrong. I planned my seeding schedule with the idea that I would be able to start moving plants outside in early March. If I had a hoophouse it would not be that big of a deal. But I do not have a hoophouse, nor a farm to put it on. Instead I have an overflowing grow room in the basement. I’m sure that the outlets can’t handle any more lights so that is not really an option. If the weather were just a little warmer I could put up my cold frame in the back yard, all the snow out there doesn’t help that situation and they are calling for another 6 inches tomorrow. I have no right to complain about precipitation in any form at this point considering we are still technically in a drought. The deficit heading into the winter was so bad that all of the rain and snow we have gotten over the last months have not caught us up yet.
Last year I said that I would not operate like this again. We needed to move but finding a farm suitable for our needs has been more difficult than I thought it would be.
I only have room for a few more trays of seedlings down there so I had better use it wisely. Thanks to some neglectful watering in earlier this month, I might be able to make room for a few more. But I had planned for over 30 more flats to be seeded during the next three weeks. I will have to ration my space and wait. Wait patiently for spring to come.